News Release

Forest Fires


Chair of the economics department at the University of Montana and author of the paper “Destroying Forests to Save Them: Rational Responses to the Summer of 2000 Wildfires,” Power said today: “The argument of many of the Western governors is that significant expansion of Western logging will reduce fires. But from an economic point of view, to reduce the threat of fire, you have to remove the most flammable material, but that has no commercial value. If you log an area, you remove the material that is least flammable — commercial logs — and leave the material that’s most flammable — brush and small trees. We can’t possibly afford to do what the timber industry and their advocates want to do, which is to ‘treat’ the forest — their euphemism for logging. We can’t afford to intensively manage tens of millions of acres of wild forest, and it would be environmentally damaging to try to do so. In addition, it’s not necessary to protect people and communities from wildfire.”

Founder and executive director of the Native Forest Council, Hermach said today: “More than one hundred years ago, the great Republican conservationist President Teddy Roosevelt protected what came to be known as the National Forests from all further logging. Why? Because of the irresponsible and brutal behavior of the nation’s rapacious timber barons. Since then, however, Big Timber has bought its way into Congress and has clear-cut and logged over 40 million acres of these pristine national forests…. And they’ve been aided and abetted by the U.S. Forest Service and your tax dollars. The timber industry is pretending to be concerned about forest fires; they believe the fire issue can still be used to justify even more logging and to cover up the fact that they are the ones causing many of the fires and that their logging usually makes fires worse, not better.”
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Partridge, a former professor of Forest Disease and Insect Problems at the University of Idaho, has spent 37 years working on forest issues. He said today: “The administration is claiming that thinning will protect the forests, but what the administration and the timber industry want is a pretext to go in and log. They would not remove small-diameter material, but large trees. So while pretending that they are protecting forests from fires, they would actually be increasing the likelihood of fires…. Small debris and small-diameter timber is what’s left on the ground after they log the large-diameter trees that the timber companies want. The proposed ‘thinning’ — a euphemism for logging — will also become another way that the taxpayer subsidizes the timber industry. Not only does that industry get this material at greatly reduced cost, but the taxpayer subsidizes the roads that are built for the timber companies to use. Claims that forests are unhealthy have been and are being advanced as part of the reason for ‘management,’ but that is simply another pretext for logging. The published record shows that loss of trees from disease, fire, insects and any other disaster is less than 1 percent per year.”

For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; David Zupan, (541) 484-9167